Friday, February 12, 2016

Cow Fur

As another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.

I am moved to explain something to people, as at times my children and my brats have interest in moo cows.

Cattle are by nature, forest animals. They are browsers in natural form like goats and deer, and not primarily grazers like buffalo and antelope, even if cattle have replaced the bison in North America.

They prefer a temperature range of about 40 degrees to 75 degrees, which fits the black forests of Europe where most of the cattle as livestock in the world originated from.
They are most comfortable with something over their head, whether it is trees or a shed. They do not handle ice well, or any severe moisture in it being to cold wet or hot humid.

They also have 4 stomachs and will bloat if fed legumes like beans, green alfalfa or corn, if they are not used to it, and it will kill them.

This education though is not about the things to watch for in cattle, as cattle are pretty tough animals in being an almost no care creature. This is about the fur or the hair they have on their hide, and how to pick an animal more suited to your location.

Cattle have two coats of fur like most animals in summer and winter. The winter coat is one of longer hair as a dead air space above, the lower denser fur, which is what insulates them from the cold.
As this subject is about dairy cattle, I am going to focus on the three photos I found as they will help explain the situation best.

In the above, you have the Brown Swiss. As you can see she looks like a fur ball, which is something that will keep her alive in more exposed situations. All dairy cattle though should have a roof over their head in winter, with the opening facing south for sun.  You do not EVER enclose cattle in barns, because that is what makes them sick. in colds and pneumonia. Once inside and enclose they have to stay inside, as much as weather that is 40 degrees one day, and zero the next kills cattle too.
Beef cattle can deal with more as they are range bred, but they still need protection for winds or in snow storms or ice, like horses, they turn their butts to the wind, and the ice drives under their hair and freezes them.

In that 20 and 40 below winter weather which Montana gets, cattle on the range will literally freeze standing up and die.

No dairy breed is designed for continued weather below 20 degrees outside. They simply do not have the fur, and you can not feed them enough to keep them from starving. So you build a hay shed or a pole shed, with bedding they can lie down on to keep warm, and keep the snow, rain and wind off of them.

The brown swiss in one of the more hearty breeds, and would be suited to the colder regions on the Canadian American border. That is not to say they are Arrowhead Minnesota or Green Mountain Vermont survivable without shelter, any more than you are. But a brown swiss is better suited to colder climates.
I will address an alternative for everyone too at the end, to keep in mind.

The next breed which is the Baby Belle and Baby Daisy breed are the Jersey. Belle was sick and almost went udder up, but after healing with TL's TLC, we put her into a chicken coop with Daisy, and I have been surprised at how well these Jerseys do in areas from day the Kansas border to Pennsylvania type weather. Again they are in the barn, the door is open, they get alfalfa grass hay and a ration of cracked corn, but they have not shivered once. Belle handles the cold better in she is a fur ball, but Daisy is doing well in cold from 20 below to the 30's above.

Holsteins are the breed you should stay away from, even if they appear all through the dairy industry, as they will not handle outside cold. My dad used to have some crosses in his beef herd, and they would go down at spring, in they just can not handle the cold. They are better in warm regions from Virginia south, but my children and my brats, dairy cattle produce milk, and Holstein's produce more milk than you can ever drink, and it has to be milked twice a day, which you are not going to like as your hands will cramp up after milking an hour being a novice, and you will think you have better things to do......and if you do not milk that cow out, she will get mastitis probably in poison milk.........yes a vaccine cures it, but do not buy the problem.

For warmer regions, there is the Guernsey or Ayrshire. They are sweet cows like Jerseys in temperament and do not produce as much milk........but they do produce more than you will probably will want to deal with.

So now here comes the Mom solution.

Mom had this little black and white cow named Leona. She had three tits and not four. She also would in a half a gallon of milk for us daily, give us more milk than we could use, but we never milked twice a day, because cows have calves, and that is how you get the milk in the first place.
What you do, is pen the calf up at night. Let the cow out, and in the morning she wants to be milked. Comes for her grain in the stanchion. You feed her, let the calf out which is trained to suck on the cows right side and you sit and milk on the left in taking your share.
The calf can either be with the cow all day inside, or you can pen the calf up and turn it out to nurse in the afternoon during chores and separate them again, so you get milk in the morning.

You have to be careful in cows that produce a great deal of milk, until the calf can "suck the cow out" or take all the milk, or they may drink too much, and the milk will swell up in the gut, pinch the intestine off on a warm day, and kill the calf.
I am not trying to scare you in this, but if you just pay attention to things, that will never happen.

Dairy cows simply produce a great deal of milk, and if you get lazy, you might just have to invest in another calf, and as the cow feeds in the stanchion you have it suck on your side of the cow.....and she may kick it and you, so you have to persuade her.
After about 3 days, the calf will smell like the cows milk from the inside out, and she will accept it, but this is probably the way you will get your few gallons of milk a week, and let the calves do the work for you.

A holstein could probably handle 4 calves, and is why you do not want to buy a holstein.

There is an alternative to all this dairy cow breed in a black baldie. Some dumb shits are trying to say these are black herefords, but they are not. What they are, is a calf born from a black angus cow and a hereford bull or vice versa.
The angus got their modern size from Black Bird, a brood cow who was a black holstein and is why when you cross them with herefords, you get udders which are huge. A cows udder gets bigger each year that they produce a calf for the first 5 years, so milk production goes up.

You can wean a calf in 8 weeks, but we never did, as cows will milk for a year on one breeding, if not a bit longer. The point being that most of you will find having a rollicking calf almost as big as the cow, sucking her out, frees up your time for fun things, as you find that milking a few times a week is less work in just a few gallons for your use.

With the baldie, you get the beef toughness and the milk, not so much of it, like you would in the shorthorn breed which is another dual purpose bovine, that is pretty tame.

I have a cow named Posey, named by the Vet's little girl who weighed about 4 pounds and would lead her around the pen for 4 H. She is shorthorn, kicks at me when I try to milk her, but I can lead her around with a twine string.

That is what is IMPORTANT IN THIS. You are going to have to put a halter on your milk cow, and train her to lead to make life easier for you in calving or getting out. Daisy still decides to lead me or to run into me as she likes communicating that way, but it is my plan now when we do get a few more calves for beef cows. to halter train every one of them. It just saves time, and it helps to keep a cow which just had a calf from trying to kill you. Another nuance of bovines which you must be aware.

Try not to get attached to your calves, as if you get a second calf to deal with excess milk, you probably could eat it. Holstein steers make good beef as do holstein heifers, but try and get an ugly one, as I find that more acceptable to taking them to the butcher shop to turn them into food. You will not be able to feed the excess animals, so figure they will be beef or something sold to someone who is going to get tired of taking care of them as they are work and they are something that has to be done.

Getting a round bale feeder will save you a great deal of work in feeding your cattle. That means a tractor with loader or a good neighbor to feed for you. Just remember cows like sticking their heads into feeders as you dump a bale in, and there they are with their head trapped trying to suffocate....learn from a cowgirl in what I know from stupid cows, and then you do not have the drama.

So in review in cow fur, sometimes a hereford, shorthorn or a baldie might be all you need and they are more durable. You are going to have to though fondle their udders often as calves to get them used to the attention for milking. Udders are sore on heifers and they will kick.
If you get a nurse calf to help with milking, then your dairy breeds are something you can learn to deal with, but if you can go to a dairy the owner might be able to steer you to some heifer calf that might not have as large of bag, which is what you are looking for.......along with longer teats as modern milkers breed for automatic milkers, which you can buy, but you have to wash them up every day which is another chore.

I actually like milking by hand. It is nice on mornings to hear the birds singing in spring and the cow munching on things making lo'ing sounds, the calf bunting the bag as it smacks while sucking excitedly, the cow is kicking at the calf, and it's tail is wagging slapping against the cow.

When we feed the beef cows, Posey is usually standing there and I pet her, and Baby Daisy and Baby Belle as long as they do not start running with a herd of cows, are going to be friends for life with us, in they think we are their mothers.
Daisy likes to kick in fun, which does not amuse me, but she will grow out of it, like her terrible twos, but they are good girls, as most cattle are, but they all have different personalities. Pretty makes you feel good, but a good dead headed cow is something of beauty.
There is a reason why old Montana ranchers, would rather part with their wife and kids, than their milk cow, because good milk cows are hard to find like good horses, and you do get attached to them.

I still feel sad for Glenn Drowns at Sand Hill Preservation, as he had an old pet cow that would come to the fence as he tested watermelons in the garden, and they would share the fruit. She died, and it as hard as any pet when your cow dies. Thankfully, if you feed a cow, shelter her, she will probably last you 18 to 20 years, and be more like a dog in time.
I have to watch Belle and Daisy as they liked running down the driveway which is 50 yards long onto the main road, so they do not get run over, but in the winter, I let them out and they just pull stuff out of the round bales, until bored, and then run around bucking and kicking in a circle by the garden for amusement, which is the clue it is time to water them and to put them away.

Different people like different animals due to their frequencies. They absorb emotion from you or reflect to you. I like cows as they are peaceful most times, and the few times you think you are nuts for having them will pass, and then things are wonderful again.

I do not have any experience with the miniature beef breeds like herefords, dexters or highlanders. When we get the money, I intend on some Highlanders, but they may work out too. Belle seems to have as large as udder as Daisy at this point, but she is dairy,  and there just is not a great deal of information on any of this as most of these A holes who got involved in cattle were speculating as the lesbian abusers who had Daisy and Belle, and in watching Craigslist the past year, many of them were selling off their small herds as there was not the money and these idiots were crossbreeding with whatever, and no one wants that.

Still my intention to get a pair of steers in Jersey too for oxen or I may have to wait for Daisy to calve, which will be artificial insemination, in a miniature, as you never breed regular size to miniatures as that would kill them as the calf would have to be c sectioned out and the shock would in most cases kill the cow.

Cattle though are quite resilient, and is why American ranchers gravitated toward beef and farmers dairy cattle. Once you get a cow that you are attached to, you would give up an awful lot of things in protecting them, even as they on a hot day decide to slap a cow shit tail on your face as you milk (tie the tail up and do not forget to untie it before letting the cow out) or as Daisy is fond of in licking with that saliva tongue or finding something on a coat or my shirt tail sticking out and she starts sucking on that to make a most interesting pasty wad, that makes me frown and then I think, "Well that is Daisy and at least she is well to be being Daisy".

..........and the reason that brown swiss in the top photo has her tail tucked in, is because she is outside and cold. That weather was in the teens and she is having problems ......and I see pointy ears behind her, as the guy has her in with a horse, which will bite a cow and drive them off for the better feed.

See there are lots of things that brier patch folk see in a picture which you never see as you are in the city. It is a different language spoken by signs, like that baldie heifer with her calf with her head up is telling you, "I am going to kill you if you get too close and my little calf is going to run through the fence and end up 5 miles away if you ever find it again."

You will learn in time, and if you pay attention you will not get injured as these are 500 pounds in the miniatures and 1500 on the standard sizes in animals. Never turn your back on a bull or a fresh cow, no matter how wonderful the pet. I was in the pen with Posey and she was fine, but a goose went in with her on her first calf (a fox had been in the pen during the night) and Posey killed that goose in an instant.
I had a bull come floating behind me one day, when I turned my back on it. It was just playing, but if it would have hit me, it would have broke me.
Cattle communicate differently, than people, and once you learn how they talk, things go pretty good. You just have to do your part in getting one suited to your situation, and then being adult about them in caring for them, and never forgetting that just because your cow acts like it is comatose around you, it might decide  that it is wild as the wind when some idiot relative appears thinking they are a rodeo girl like you.

Nuff said.